With World Sight Day taking place earlier this month, I was thinking about the amazing accomplishments that Lions and Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) have been able to achieve together. The theme of World Sight Day this year was “No More Preventable Blindness,” which is something we have been working towards for years by fighting diseases through SightFirst and working with partners to make a difference.
Our Sight for Kids partnership with Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Companies (JJVCC) is a great example of what can be achieved. The Sight for Kids program has screened the vision of more than 20 million schoolchildren in Asia Pacific who might not have received a vision screening otherwise. And, the partnership program provides glasses and follow-up care as needed, all for free to students in need.
I am proud to share with you that we have expanded Sight for Kids beyond Asia Pacific into Kenya and Turkey. You can watch a new video online to learn more about Sight for Kids and about our expansion into these two new countries. Our partnership program really works, and I am very happy about this expansion.
I want to encourage you to continue sight-saving efforts through your club, your district, and beyond. Every project helps reduce preventable blindness and save sight, just like every donation to LCIF can help make a difference.
Barry J. Palmer
Chairperson, Lions Clubs International Foundation
If you could save a child’s sight with the press of a button, wouldn’t you?
That’s the idea behind Lions KidSight USA, a new national initiative announced by Lions in the United States. Lions KidSight USA was launched to help ensure that children between the ages of six months and six years receive vision screening and professional follow-up care when needed.
To accomplish this, KidSight USA will work with new and existing screening programs to get more handheld screening devices into the hands of Lions—and more kids in front of them.
“KidSight USA is an important national initiative that will help families protect the eye health of their children,” said International President Joe Preston. “It builds on our proud history of saving sight and our belief that all children deserve to see the world clearly. With the help of Lions, we hope they will.”
Lions KidSight USA wants to reach kids early because some vision problems can become permanent by age seven. But vision issues can be easily detected with hand-held screening devices that even generate the results on-site. With only a few minutes of training, Lions and volunteers can learn to screen the vision of a child.Lions in the U.S. currently screen more than 500,000 kids per year through state and local programs often known as “KidSight.” Lions KidSight USA wants to expand the number of screening programs so Lions can change the lives of even more children around the country.
Before we left Iceland, we had the great honor of meeting with President Ólafur Grímsson of Iceland at his official residence, Bessastadir. The president greeted Joni and me and the leaders of Lions in Iceland and then we sat down to discuss how Lions have been—and will continue to contribute to—making a difference in their community.
President Grímsson commended Lions for strengthening the commitment to voluntary work and cooperation in his country. He remembered how Lions were organized in Iceland in 1951, at a period when there were a number of divisive issues in the country. He said that Lions reached out to people in different communities, with different perspectives and from opposing camps and helped to bring them all together.
He also recognized Lions for their support of the University Hospital and for the other important Lions projects, many of which we visited.
We spent a productive hour talking with President Grímsson about Lions activities around the world, needs for community support in Iceland and the importance of volunteers everywhere.
Thank you to the Lions of Iceland for arranging the visit, for organizing Lions World Sight Day and for their many projects that we visited that contribute to improving the life of everyone.
Be sure to follow me on Facebook to see more activities, projects and pictures from my trips around the world.
The Norwalk Lions Club of California, USA, presented “White Cane Days” on October 11, 2014. The long white cane is a symbol of independence and is used by those who are blind or visually impaired. It is a tool for safety, especially in traffic situations.
The Lions offered information about the history of the white cane and distributed free eye glass applications. Free eye screening, as well as Diabetes testing, was provided by the Lions Mobile Health Screening Unit of Southern California. You can follow the Norwalk Lions on Facebook to learn more about the success of their project.
With World Sight Day and White Cane Day having taken place earlier this month, Lions are organizing projects to support the fight against blindness. Vision projects fall under the Sharing the Vision campaign. By taking part in this campaign, Lions are helping us reach our goal for the Centennial Service Challenge –serving 100 million people by 2017. Clubs are asked to record their activities on MyLCI, and are encouraged to share their pictures on social media sites. Use the hashtag #LIONS100 when posting so that other clubs can see how you are making an impact.
How is your club participating in the Sharing the Vision Campaign?
When we put our hearts into service, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish. Just ask Special Olympics athletes and their families in over 80 countries who have benefited from “Mission: Inclusion,” the global partnership between Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) and Special Olympics.
Since 2001, Special Olympics has partnered with Lions around the world to provide health education to families and caretakers of individuals with intellectual disabilities. Now you can add one more country to the list of countries participating in “Mission: Inclusion.”
On Saturday, September 6, Lions in Kenya met with Lions First Vice President Jitsuhiro Yamada and representatives from Special Olympics Kenya to sign a memorandum of understanding introducing the partnership to the people of Kenya.
By signing the MOU, Lions in Kenya pledge to support the growth of Opening Eyes, LCIF’s vision care partnership program with Special Olympics, and ensure high quality screening and follow-up care is provided to the families and caretakers of individuals with intellectual disabilities throughout Kenya.
This support includes engaging Leo youth volunteers throughout the country in the Special Olympics inclusive sports model, and supporting the creation of Special Olympics-focused Lions Clubs integrating athletes into local Lions Clubs through the “Invite an Athlete” campaign.
Lions in Kenya hope to provide increased service and support for individuals with intellectual disabilities and their families by engaging at least 100 Lions Clubs volunteers in Opening Eyes events and Family Health Forums throughout the year. In doing so, the expanded program will provide an estimated 500 athletes a year with quality vision screenings and follow-up care.
In addition, the global partnership seeks to build on previous successes by mobilizing local Leos and Lions Clubs volunteers to hold at least one Unified Sports match bringing together Leos and Special Olympics Kenya athletes. Because everyone, regardless of where they’re from or what they do, should be able to experience the transformative powers of sports and service.
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